President Donald Trump said Republicans would wait until after the 2020 election to hold a vote on a replacement for Obamacare, abruptly halting a push he began just last week and guaranteeing that the issue will take center stage in his re-election campaign.
He made the shift in a series of Twitter posts late Monday night.
“Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House,” the president said in a Monday night tweet.
“Everybody agrees that ObamaCare doesn’t work,” the president said in another tweet.
The postings ended a week-long scramble by GOP lawmakers to come up with an Obamacare alternative after the administration unexpectedly changed its position in a lawsuit by arguing that all of the Affordable Care Act — a two-law statutory package that includes the “Obamacare” Medicaid and major medical coverage provisions, along with many other health care and health finance provisions — should be entirely struck down. Trump’s Justice Department had previously said that the courts should overturn only the ACA provisions that deal directly with major medical insurance underwriting and pricing.
A final court ruling in that case is likely to come before June 2020. If Trump wins in court, there could be swift and widespread chaos and uncertainty in American health care — at least until an alternative system is put in place — as the array of changes to industry regulations, subsidies for low-income individuals and delivery system reforms would be undone.
A ruling permanently overturning all of the ACA could also eliminate the ACA provisions that have narrowed the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan “donut hole” coverage gap, increased funding for health care professional education, and promoted efforts to teach health care professionals how to care for older patients.
Some lawmakers were critical of Trump’s announcement.
“From his very first day in office, his goal has been to get rid of” Obamacare, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., told CNN on Tuesday.
Kaine advocates a plan called Medicare X, which he said is a “Medicare-produced policy that can be bought on the exchange.” It’s different from “Medicare for All” proposals in that it merely provides an option rather than replacing most private coverage.
Republican Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee said Tuesday on Fox Business Network’s “Mornings With Maria” program that he doesn’t believe Trump is planning to wait until 2020 to devise an alternative to Obamacare because he’s a “leader” who doesn’t shy away from problems.